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Is Kubecon worth it?

Is Kubecon worth it?

Nov 15, 2021
4 min read

KubeCon has become the annual go-to conference for those interested in and excited about the Kubernetes ecosystem. In 2021, KubeCon was hosted both virtually and physically in Los Angeles.

I’ve attended the event as both an attendee and as a sponsor. As you may know, it is quite the financial commitment to attend the event when you factor in the cost of the ticket, travel, and accommodations. So some buy in is likely needed from you and the team.

Here are my thoughts about KubeCon:

Attending KubeCon talks & sessions

KubeCon is a great place to learn about current trends and new technologies in the Kubernetes ecosystem. In 2021, KubeCon featured 225 talks including 68 Maintainer Track Sessions, 21 Keynotes, and 136 Breakouts. And, 24% of all speakers were gender minority speakers, including 46% of the keynote speakers.

At KubeCon you are able to get access to topics that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Some of my favorite sessions included discussions on eBPF, specifically using eBPF for Kubernetes monitoring, OpenTelemetry, and observability.

The hardest part is navigating from one talk to the next, and deciding which sessions to skip or save for the virtual session recording. I’d recommend planning out which sessions you’d like to attend in the days leading up to KubeCon. It is helpful to have a schedule together so you know where you need to be in the conference center at what times. The KubeCon Slack Channel was helpful in that regard.

My engineering team really enjoyed the talks too. Being able to learn about the latest Kubernetes and cloud native technologies was valuable for them.

Sponsoring Kubecon

This was our first year sponsoring the event. We were fortunate enough to qualify for the Startup package, which provides a lower-cost entry point for new companies.

At $7,000 for 5 event passes and an 8' exhibit booth we thought it was quite the deal. Buying the 5 event passes alone would cost $7,500. So if you are bringing at least 5 people to the event, you will end up saving something like $500 by sponsoring the event versus just purchasing tickets outright. This made sponsoring the event totally worth it.

KubeCon also offers more expensive Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond packages that include additional real estate, promotion, and passes.

With a little over 3,000 on-site attendees, down 70-80% from years past, the foot traffic wasn’t quite what it was in years pre-COVID. But I found that the attendees who did stop by our booth were engaged and quite interested in our platform for Kubernetes monitoring. The lead scanner app made it easy to grab contact information and follow up with those who were interested. It always amazes me how many companies are using Kubernetes to scale their infrastructure (ex Chick-fil-a).

Some social media promotion and other marketing efforts were also included in the sponsorship. All-in, I think we spent about $11,000, including the sponsorship, giveaways, and travel and transportation.

Meeting old and new friends

KubeCon is as much about the people as it is the programming. KubeCon is the once a year event in our industry where you get to see everyone in one place and are able to put faces to friends, partners, and customers.

92% of the attendees at KubeCon 2021 were from North America, 4% were from Europe, 3% from Asia, and the remaining from the rest of the world.

If you are attending KubeCon for the first time, I would start to build your meetup schedule in the weeks leading up to the event. Count on many unscheduled hellos too.

For us, the most valuable part of KubeCon may be the relationships we weren able to build in-person at the event. Included, I’d love to get to know you over a coffee at KubeCon 2022!

Kubecon + CloudNativeCon schedule for 2021-2022

CNCF has released some preliminary information about the KubeCon schedule for 2021-2022.

Kubecon + CloudNativeCon + Open Source Summit China 2021 - virtual

  • Dates: December 9 + 10, 2021 (China Standard Time)
  • Location: Virtual only
  • Link to website

Kubecon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2022

Kubecon + CloudNativeCon North America 2022

Final thoughts on Kubecon

KubeCon has been worth it to us in many ways. As both an attendee and a sponsor, the event delivered on expectations. If you are an early stage startup, I recommend taking advantage of the Startup sponsorship program.

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Nate Matherson
Nate Matherson is the Co-founder & CEO of ContainIQ. An experienced entrepreneur and technologist, he has founded multiple venture-backed companies and is a two-time Y Combinator Alum.

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